A few weeks ago I saw a message on our Front Porch Forum from Melody asking for fabric scraps.
Susan had just dropped off a box of fabric along with the quilt tops that gave me the idea to do the Bishop Maginn Quilt Project. I also had boxes of fabric scraps that I had gotten in the mail that were still sitting on my studio floor waiting to be unpacked.
So I was feeling fabric wealthy and thought it might be nice to share some of what I had.
I decided to make up a couple of bags of fabric scraps for Melody. Some from Susan’s boxes and some of the fabric from my studio that I’d had a long time and hadn’t used.
Once I emailed Melody, I found out she lived a couple of towns away and didn’t drive. “I’ll take anything you want to give me,” she wrote back. And I knew I was talking to a kindred spirit.
So this afternoon Jon and I set the GPS to Melody’s address and headed out to her house. A half-hour later we pulled into Melody’s driveway where she met us.
Melody told us that she started making masks “when this whole thing began” but recently got bored and decided to put together some of the scraps she had and make a quilt. “But fabric is so expensive,” she said, “and I thought that someone might have small leftover pieces of fabric they wanted to get rid of, so I asked on the Forum.”
She pulled a few vibrant and meticulously sewn quilt squares that she’d already made from a zip lock bag she was holding. Then told me she wanted to make a baby quilt too.
That’s when reached into one of the bags I’d brought and pulled out a ziplock bag that Susan had given me. It was filled with fabric in baby yellows and greens already cut up to be made into a quilt.
Melody let me know more than once how much she appreciated the fabric and us bringing it to her.
And I really appreciated being able to share some of the wonderful fabric that generous people are always sending me with someone who could use them and would use them well.
Every morning I go out to the barnyard, check on the animals, fill up the water bucket, open or close a gate for grazing, and muck out the barn.
Six days a week I take my iPhone with me looking for a photo.(Saturday is my Sabbath from going online and taking pictures) Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But because I’ve come to know the sheep and donkeys so well and because they’re comfortable around me, I can usually tell if a good photo is about to happen.
That’s when I take out my iPhone and begin snapping pictures.
This morning it happened between Fanny and Merricat. I captured that moment of communication between them. I don’t know what they were saying to each other, but there was definitely something passing between them.
My paper mache lamp has finally dried, it took a lot longer than Emily’s fruits and veggies did.
The day after our Paper Mache Day Emily had already given her fruit and veggie ornaments a first coat of paint. And today they’re all done, complete with faces, and copper wires to hang them from.
Beet, Carrot, Apple and Grapes, they each have their very own delightful personality. And they’re for sale on Emily’s website papercakescissors. They’re $20 and you can read all about them and buy them here.
Maybe I’ll work on my lamp over the weekend. Seeing Emily’s fruits and vegetables has inspired me.
Stephanie sent me this quilt top that her mother had. It came with a note that read…
“The quilt was made by a Cheyenne Indian woman in Oklahoma. It was given to the wife of the Cheyenne Keeper of the Sacred Arrows and she gave it to me. Claire” 2/13/08 Claire gave it to me (Anita) to finish.”
I put the quilt together with a backing that Carolyn gave me and batting, that readers of my blog helped me buy.
It will finally be finished by the kids at Bishop Maginn and given to one of the families at the school who could use an extra blanket this winter.
I knew when I saw the horse fabric that someone sent me that it would make good potholders.
It was just a matter of figuring out how to make them work since the pattern was so busy. That’s when I decided to keep them simple as if the horses were emerging from the large fields of fabric I placed next to them.
Some of the potholders in this photo are already sold. But there are still some available.
They are $20 each + $5 shipping for one or more. You can see them all and buy them here.
I wasn’t planning on cleaning my studio when I got into it this morning. And I didn’t, not right away. First I made designed a few potholders.
But the mess quickly got to me. My work table with loaded with fabric and I still had piles of fabric in boxes and baskets on my floor, that people had sent me and needed to be put away.
So after lunch, I started folding fabric and once I started, I couldn’t get myself to stop. By reorganizing and putting a few things in a box for Goodwill, I was able to make more space and fit all my “new” fabric on shelves.
I even cleaned up my desk, finding a better way to use the little box with nine compartments in it to hold the things I use most. And I separated my bobbins so I don’t accidentally use them in the wrong sewing machine.
I didn’t think of it as I was cleaning up, but I may have been inspired by Emily who made a video on Instagram yesterday about how she keeps her collage materials organized. You can see it here.
Tomorrow I hope to finish up the Horse Potholders I started last week. I made them over a few different days, and I don’t think I put a photo of them up on my blog. So here they are…
I’ll put them up for sale in my Etsy Shop tomorrow afternoon.
Below are the potholders I designed today. They’re so different than the horses, more fussy I’d say. But then they are cats.
I was a bit thrown off this week since I didn’t spend as much time in my studio as I usually do. Yesterday as I was blogging about the Virgin Mary at Bishop Maginn, I looked at the clock and saw it was time for me to leave for Bellydancing. I finished up writing but didn’t get to post a picture of the first quilt I got together that moring for the Bishop Maginn Quilt Project.
So here it is, batting and backing sewn on ready to be tacked by the kids in Sue Silverstein’s art class.
I think I’m all up to date now on what I’ve been doing. I’m looking forward to a full day in my studio tomorrow.
When Sue Silverstein called Jon last night and told him that one of her students, Ploe needed a mattress, Jon said he’d come to Bishop Maginn the next day and asked me if I wanted to go with him. Sue found out that Ploe and his brother have been sleeping on their livingroom floor, when he complained of neck and back pain.
When Jon and I got there, Sue’s art room was full of kids eating their lunch, painting and drawing. “My classes are full”, Sue told me happily.
There haven’t been so many kids at Bishop Maginn in years. During the pandemic word spread of what a good school it is. How bullying isn’t tolerated and the kids, many of them refugees, are made to feel welcomed and loved. Most of the kids at Bishop Maginn who want to go to College get to.
Sue told me her first art project is for the kids is for them to draw and paint what the past year and a half, during the pandemic, has meant to them.
As I walked around the class room I saw the Virgin Mary on the counter surrounded by the kid’s ceramics and glue and paper towels. It felt so right to me, like Mary was blessing the art supplies, that I had to take a picture.
This is the Virgin Mary that would be at Bishop Maginn.
Not one cloistered in a grotto, surrounded by flowers and candles. But a Virgin Mary who is a part of it all. One who understands the importance of what is going on in Sue’s classroom. The necessity of glue, and paint, and paper towels, the tools that allow so many of the kids at Bishop Maginn to express what they’re feeling and who they are.
I grew up around images and statues of the Virgin Mary, but I never saw her the way I did today in Sue’s classroom. I think I finally understand why so many people, especially women pray to her. Not that I can explain it.
I pulled the three-foot roll of chickenwire out of the trunk of my car and slung the tote bag with the wire cutters and fabric, cheese and apple sauce over my shoulder.
I was struck by a flash of memory, of going to another friend’s house and making art.
It was one of those conglomerate memories sparked by the sight of the wire hexagons and the phantom smell of wheat paste.
Even thirty years ago I was making trees. This one, thick and clunky compared to Kathy’s delicate life-sized paper mache party dress. Somehow she made it look as if it were made of lace.
Later, after I’d moved upstate, we’d have weekends of quilt making at her house. One time we unraveled a yellow knitted baby dress, crocheted it over two teacups and entered it in a juried art show. It was a friendship born of art and lasted until we both changed so much, there was little left between us. Something we both agreed on as we each went our own way.
I was brought back to the present when Emily called a “hello” from inside the house. She could see me walking up the path to her front door.
The house was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread. Two loaves were cooling on a cutting board on the kitchen counter.
Then I got sidetracked looking at the nursery of small succulents on the windowsill.
There were tiny clay pots with thick leaves sprouting roots and smaller leaves. Cuttings stuck in gravely soil, and “babies” recently separated from the mother plant, all on the kitchen window. In Emily’s studio, there were bigger succulents, the Orchids were in the dining room.
After that, we got to work outside on the deck, a view of the Vermont mountains through Quince and Pear trees in the yard. Emily cutting and shaping cardboard and masking tape into small vegetables and fruit. Me clipping chicken wire and molding it into the lamp I’ve drawn a hundred times.
We talked, as we worked, about the past week. All the things we usually tell each other in our Zoom Studio Chats. It felt good to be using my hands to mold the chicken wire pinching and pushing it, pulling it, and twisting the ends to hold things together.
We went back and forth over how to make the lampshade stay on my lamp. And Emily suggested I fill my lamp with aluminum foil to make it stronger and heavier so it wouldn’t fall over.
We had lunch around noon. Emily’s bread with cheese, vegetables and homemade bean dip. Brownies and strong black tea for dessert.
Then Emily mixed flour, water, and a little bit of glue in a bowl. We had already torn the paper into strips. I dipped the first piece in and without thinking ran it between my ring and middle finger squeezing the excess paste back into the bowl. It all came back to me as I smoothed the strips of paper around the chicken wire.
When I was done, there was nothing smooth about my lamp. Also, without the lampshade, it seemed to have turned into one of my dancing goddesses. But that wasn’t so unusual, my lamps often took on a female form.
Maybe it came out of Emily’s and my discussion about Bellydancing, how so many of our dance moves look like images from my Ancient Goddess Book.
Our drying sculptures, placed on parchment paper, only suggested what we had in mind for them. Emily’s peach, carrot, beet and grapes, looked like glazed crullers, good enough to eat. And my dancing lamp was so much bigger than I intended it to be.
There’s still much to be done.
First, the paper mache has to completely dry, then Emily will paint her’s with gesso and later add color and some of her college eyes that she’s known for.
I’m planning on using matte medium and fabric on my lamp and shade. Kind of painting it with fabric, the same way I’ve done in my fabric paintings.
Although it hadn’t occurred to me, Emily wasn’t surprised when my lamp turned out bigger than I’d planned. “It’s hard to make something small with chicken wire,” she said. “There’s all those big spaces.” She suggested I mold aluminum foil and cover it with masking tape if I wanted to make something smaller.
I’m still thinking about that. It hadn’t crossed my mind to use anything other than chickenwire, even when Emily told me she was using cardboard and tape. I couldn’t imagine it.
Although now, after crumpling the foil to fit inside my lamp, I can imagine shaping it into a smaller lamp. And maybe even making a little end table to put it on.
But that will have to wait till I finish my first lamp. Big and bulky as she is, I have more to learn from her.